Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Main Street 2.0: Local Internet Marketing (Part 1)

Main Street2: Local Internet Marketing (Part 1)

More and more activities from our daily lives have gone online. It seems as if Main Street America is being replaced by the Internet. The outlook looks bleak. Why go to the bar when there’s Match.com? I can order groceries or a delivery pizza online, so I don’t need to go out. I can watch movies or local bands on YouTube or MySpace. The Internet is so convenient for all our activities why do we need to leave home?

It’s the same reason why jail is bad. Humans need to go outside and actually interact with other people. We need to get out and stretch our legs. When we can, we reward ourselves for our hard work be it dinner, drinks, clothes, or entertainment. The Internet is not going to replace our local businesses and destroy our humanity like some hard lesson learned story by Ray Bradbury. The world isn’t going to end, but the paradigm has shifted because of our other human need, information.

The Information Age is enhancing our communities by opening up communication. Local business listings on Google Maps and Yelp and other “review sites” opened up Word-of-Mouth marketing to business owners everywhere. Social Media, or Social Networking sites offers us a chance in our busy lives to build relationships in our community. Good relationships are the backbone of a local business. Internet marketing bridges the gap that used to separate companies and customers.

The opportunities to connect the span are not hard to see, but information overload can blind us to them. It’s wise to consult with an Internet marketing professional at this point (wink, wink). We are told about pay-per-click, social media, page rank, Google, Facebook, shopping carts and how great they are, but they’re not new concepts. Internet Marketing works because it’s based on traditional methods of building business-customer relations. In truth, the basic elements of T.V., Radio, Print, Yellow Pages and Word-of-Mouth have an online counterpart. The difference between traditional marketing strategies and Internet marketing is the heightened ability to track results, measure Return on Investment, adjust and adapt to market conditions and interact with customers.

The second part of this series will look at the behaviors of customers downtown and online. What makes a company competitive on Main Street and Online? Then, in part three, we’ll look at Traditional and Internet marketing side by side. How are they applied to customer behavior?